Bridging dental gaps
Incisive BiteSunday, January 17, 2021
by Dr Sharon Robinson
If you have one or more missing teeth, you are not alone. Finding the right replacement is the key to a confident smile, and one of the most popular options is dental bridges. Bridges are solely used to replace missing teeth. They have two crowns – one on either end – and a bridge of replacement teeth that rests in the area of the gums where there is tooth loss. The crowns at the ends of a bridge can fuse to existing teeth (that need to be filed down by a dental professional to fit correctly), or your dental professional can attach them to dental implants.
Dental bridges are vital in maintaining your oral health. Gaps in areas of tooth loss can cause your other teeth to begin rotating or shifting into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. And missing teeth can even lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
How do bridges work?
A bridge's sole function is to replace one or more missing teeth. For a bridge, your dental professional will place caps on filed-down teeth or dental implants at the outer edges of your area of loss. Replacement teeth (called pontics) span the space between the caps where the teeth are missing. Bridges can be made of different materials. Your dental professional is in the best position to advise you of your material choice based on your individual needs. However, you'll both want to consider and discuss multiple factors such as visibility of the tooth, cost, strength, and how it looks.
How are bridges made?
Before your dental professional can have your bridge made, the teeth at the outer edges of the area of loss will be reduced in size so that your bridge will fit on them properly – unless, of course, they place the bridge on implants. Your dental professional will then take an impression to provide an exact mold for the bridge. Using this impression, your dental office will either create your bridge in-office or send the model to a dental lab. Your dental professional will use temporary crowns or bridges to cover the prepared teeth while the lab makes your bridge.
How long do crowns and bridges last?
Sometimes bridges can become loose or fall out from the damage caused by chewing hard foods, ice, or other hard objects. Dental disease that causes tooth or bone loss is another reason crowns or bridges may loosen over time. By practising good oral hygiene, however, crowns and bridges can last a lifetime. Brush at least twice a day, floss or clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day, and consider using other helpful products such as antimicrobial mouth rinses and tongue scrapers. Be sure to see your dental professional for regular cleanings – not only to keep your teeth pearly white and bacteriafree but also to check the health of your crown or bridge.
Dr Sharon Robinson, DDS has offices at Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 876-630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa.
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